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Contest rule compliance: responsibility.

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abc-xyz View Drop Down
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    Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 6:22am
All,

This post is for your information only.

I sent the below e-mail message to nycmmm@msn.com on Friday, September 05, 2008 3:41 PM.

Today is Monday, September 08, 2008, 11:20 p.m., and I have not received a response.

---------------------------------------------------------

Administrators of the NYC Midnight flash fiction contest,

I am a professional who does peer review of creative and technical efforts of nationally- and internationally-known people in a specialized field. I am a judge and a jury rolled into one. I am bound by law, as well as ethics defined by my licensure.

If I make a mistake and fail to catch non-compliances, not one, not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands of lives will be at stake, which 20th and 21st century history has proven as fact.

Also, I have half a decade of experience with flash fiction writing, editing, and critiquing. I have published nearly 50 stories in reputable printed and internet magazines. I am not an expert, far from it. However, in my humble opinion, I bring some level of experience to the table.

In the past four weeks, I have read everyone's Forum posts and made a number of notes about their stories which I have kept to myself. Some posts were spot-on regarding compliance with the rules, but a fair number were not. In addition, I made positive and negative constructive comments about story lines (some of which, by the way, were quite good), but these are off-point for this communication.

This morning, I was gravely disappointed when I saw who placed in Challenge #1 of Round #1. [rev. 09/10/08. I was referring to problems/issues with the stories with respect to the fuzzy rules, NOT the (good) *quality* of the stories.]

In the top placing stories [09/08/08 11:10 a.m. rev., based on those that were posted], I found the following non-compliances and problems/issues:
1. Incorrect genres for which the judges should have
    least heavily docked the scores if not disqualified
    the stories,
2. Plots with huge holes/gaps/inconsistencies,
3. Long, flowery run-on sentences that seem atypical of
    flash fiction, some with rambling qualities,
4. Synopses much longer than the two-sentence maximum
    and synopses presented as summaries not log lines,
5. Texts that needed major proofreading, and
6. Presentations which were visually difficult, i.e.,
    indents, line spacing, and other things which were
    jumbled up. First impressions should be
    everything. We shouldn't have to struggle to see
    what's in front of us.

Word count? Some stories may have gone over the 1000 maximum, for which the entries would have been docked 10% in points or disqualified, according to two contradictory rules.

My story's rating? Irrelevant. I have already identified several good markets and will be publishing it exactly as written for this contest in a quality print magazine or ezine. [09/06/08, post-script: Story submitted.]

I have chosen to withdraw from this contest, because I don't know how the playing field was, is, or will be defined. What are the rules? I decline to compete in anything in which the rules are changed without informing me as I go.

I strongly recommend that the judges raise the bar back to at least include and enforce the rules that were posted for this contest. Disqualification of entries is in the rules and it should used for non-compliant stories, until a penalty system for points is developed.

I advise the contest administrators to tighten up the rules either from here on in or for the next contest. All ambiguity, fuzziness, omissions, and contradictions should be addressed.

If you would like me to review and critique revisions in the rules, I would be pleased to do so.

Thank you for reviewing my observations and seriously considering how to implement my recommendations.

Sincerely,


------
p.s. 9/10/2008 -- Still no response.



    
    
    

Edited by abc-xyz - 10 Sep 2008 at 11:35am
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alexander View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote alexander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 6:45am
ummm    ok then....
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sutekh137 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sutekh137 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 7:59am
Just one question -- how can you know the text of all the stories that won?  Not everyone posted?

Also, (and I mean this), I would love to hear your critique of my story in the event you think it falls into one of the "non-compliances" you state.  I would be happy to email you a PDF copy of my story (second place, group 9, challenge 1), and would be happy to read yours and provide feedback.

I will note that while a couple groups had what I thought were glaring misses on ratings, I can't really know for sure how this all worked since we can't see all the stories.  We're pretty far up the "meta" river here -- how can one state with certainty what good judging is?

Thanks,
JoeK
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stupidmick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 10:14am
Sounds like some sour grapes to me... Does anyone really care that this person quit the competition?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NinjaHero Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 10:23am
I think we should all care that this person quit the competition. If some of us are playing by the rules and penalizing ourselves, then it matters. This contest is for money, not for free. Fair play is essential.

If it turns out you can skirt your genre and turn in a 2000 word story and win, then what is the point of this contest?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sutekh137 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 10:31am
I don't disagree, NH, but what proof does the original poster have that this is happening?  I read and critiqued every publicly posted story, and other than a few exceptions, I did not see any glaring problems with judging, and where there were gaps, there were gaps -- I had no way of knowing what won the heats.  In some cases, every one of the top five writers did NOT post their story, so how can anyone say that there was rampant mis-judgment here?  Could we at least have one example?

Not likely, I'm afraid, this sounds more like a hit-and-run.  I hope I am wrong, but the user who posted has no information on their profile, and only has this one post to their name.  If a person really wants to make a difference, then I think he/she sould stick around and communicate that, not just post then leave.  Since that is the case here, I tend to agree more with stupidmick's assessment...  :\

JoeK
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NinjaHero Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 10:35am
I agree, I would like some examples. But in another thread here we just found out that a second place story had 1021 words. It was a great story and I am sure it came in second because it deserved it.

But my story was a heck of a lot better before I cut out that last 60 words too.

I just think this person has a point. We should know the actual rules. I would hate to think that someone in my heat turned in a 3000 word story and won. They didn't post so I have no idea. But that would seem to be very foul play.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dadams Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 10:39am
I think abc-xyz has a very good point. The rules SPECIFICALLY state the stories are to be under a thousand words. If I had known it was okay to submit a story of any length, then I wouldn't have edited mine. I don't think it's 'sour grapes', he/she is stating the facts.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sutekh137 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 10:46am
True points.

Hurry up and post your story, NH, I want to see what you did with a dramatic beach wheelbarrow!  *laugh*

JoeK
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mra061818 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 10:47am
I agree...I think that exceeding the word limit should be an automatic disqualification. That may seem like a hard-nosed approach, but the word limit is specifically stated as part of the challenge, and in fact, it's part of the fun for the writers. It's the one variable that is truly quantifiable. The rest is all up to artistic interpretation.


Edited by mra061818 - 08 Sep 2008 at 10:52am
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